– 2014 Featured Talent –

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Hugh Acheson

Hugh Acheson is the chef/partner of the Athens, Ga restaurants; Five & Ten, The National and Cinco y Diez, the Atlanta restaurant Empire State South, and the Savannah, Ga restaurant The Florence. Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, he started cooking at a young age and decided to make it his career after taking a very long time to realize that academics weren’t his thing. At 15, he began working in restaurants after school. Acheson's experience includes working under Chef Rob MacDonald at the renowned Henri Burger restaurant in Ottawa, and in San Francisco as the chef de cuisine with Chef Mike Fennelly at Mecca, and later as opening sous chef with famed Chef Gary Danko at his namesake restaurant, where he found a love of the simple, pure and disciplined. Taking these experiences, Hugh developed a style of his own forging together the beauty of the South with the flavors of Europe and opening the critically acclaimed Athens, Ga restaurant Five & Ten in March of 2000. In 2007, Acheson opened The National with fellow chef Peter Dale. Adding to his list of dining establishments, Hugh opened Atlanta based restaurant, Empire State South, in the summer of 2010. In the first part of 2014 Hugh opened Cinco y Diez, a latin american neighborhood cocina in the original Five & Ten space. Most recently, in the early summer of 2014, Hugh brought The Florence to Savannah. Hugh's cookbook titled A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen published by Clarkson Potter, hit the bookshelves on October 18th, 2011. In it, you’ll find libations, seasonal vegetables, salads and soups, Hugh's prized sides, fish and meats, turning Southern food on its head every step of the way. A New Turn in the South won the Jeames Beard Foundation award for Best Cookbook in the field of "American Cooking" in 2012. 
In the Spring of 2014, Hugh partnered with Potter Style to publish his pickling swatchbook Pick a Pickle: 50 recipes for Pickles, Relishes, and Fermented Snacks. A handy kitchen resource for canning, pickling and preserving.  Acheson's fresh approach has earned him a great deal of recognition including Food & Wine’s Best New Chef (2002), the Atlanta Journal Constitution Restaurant of the Year (2007), a six time James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southeast (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and winner of the award in 2012. He is also a 2007 Rising Star from StarChefs.com and won their Mentor Award in 2012. Chef Mario Batali chose Hugh as one of the 100 contemporary chefs in Phaidon Press' Coco: 10 World Leading Masters Choose 100 Contemporary Chefs. Hugh has also been in Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Garden & Gun, Fine Living, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Southern Living, Saveur and In 2010 Hugh competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters: Season 3. He returned to the hit show as a judge on Top Chef: Seasons 9 and 10. He is the host of Bravo’s online compliment to Top Chef Masters Season 5, Battle of the Sous Chefs, and continued his judging role on Top Chef Season 11, which premiered in October of 2013.

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Libbie Summers

Libbie Summers is an accomplished television culinary producer, stylist, lifestyle trendsetting blogger and author. Her first solo book, The Whole Hog Cookbook (Rizzoli, 2011) was a National Foreword Book Award finalist with accolades from the New York Times to Fox News. Libbie's blog "Salted and Styled" won the 2013 IACP Best Blog award. Look for delicious, stunning, inventive and irreverent things from her second solo book, Sweet and Vicious –baking with an attitude (Rizzoli, September 2014)..

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Levi Lowrey

Levi Lowrey is a singer-songwriter from Dacula, Georgia. He has performed extensively as a solo artist, headliner, and as the supporting act for well known names including Clay Cook, and Zac Brown Band. Levi is one of the co-writers of the 'Colder Weather' performed by Zac Brown Band that went #1 for two weeks. Lowrey is also the co- writer of Zac Brown Band single 'The Wind" from their #1 Billboard album Uncaged. He is a CMA nominee for "Colder Weather' 2012 BMI Country Award Winner Top 50 songs of the year Colder Weather. 2011 and 2012 voted Best Local Songwriter- Creative Loafing. Early this year Roughstock named Levi 13 of 13: Ones to watch in 2013. Levi has performed on many Zac Brown Band projects including the live album, "Pass the Jar: Zac Brown Band and Friends Live from the Fabulous Fox Theatre In Atlanta", the exclusive compilation, "Breaking Southern Ground", and Zac Brown Band's "You Get What You Give". He is currently signed to Zac Brown Band's record label Southern Ground Artists.

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Davis Love III

An American professional golfer who has won 20 events on the PGA Tour, including one major championship: the 1997 PGA Championship. He also won the prestigious Players Championship in 1992 and 2003. He has featured in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking for over 450 weeks and reached a high ranking of third.[1][2] On November 9, 2008, Love's 20th career PGA Tour victory at the Children's Miracle Network Classic gave him a lifetime exemption on the tour, at the age of 44.

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Eric Culberson Band

The Eric Culberson Band hails from Savannah, GA and is steeped in Blues tradition. They are a very popular, high energy three piece band that has been pleasing audiences for over 20 years on the road in countless clubs, festivals and private occasions. With over a million miles on the road, the ECB are definitely seasoned musicians that have built a reputation based on consistency, dependability, and professionalism. The ECB's material consists of many different styles of Blues music, from "gut-bucket" Delta Blues (Muddy Waters, Louisiana Red, ) to Urban Funk Blues (Son Seals, Freddy King), to Texas Swing (Albert Collins, the Vaughn Brothers), to Chicago Blues (Jr Wells, Buddy Guy, Magic Sam, Elmore James), so everyone in the audience gets the best of many worlds. The ECB also have over 2 dozen original compositions that have appealed to the music lovers looking not only for traditional Blues music, but fresh new energy and material as well.

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Jonathan Byrd

A resident of St. Simons Island, Byrd turned pro in 2000 and his career highlights include:
•Won 2010 Justin Timberlake Shriners Open with a hole in one on the fourth playoff hole, called the “shot of the year” by many •Other PGA Tour victories include 2002 Buick Challenge, 2004 B.C. Open, and 2007 John Deere Classic •2008 Quarterfinalist at WGC Accenture Match Play •Has 31 Top-10 finishes in his career including four each in 2007 and 2010 •Was the 2002 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year

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Home Team BBQ

Aaron Siegel, Owner/Pitmaster Owner/Executive Chef Aaron Siegel’s years of knowledge and experience began with a degree from the University of Georgia and was seasoned by a culinary degree from The Culinary Institute of America in upstate New York. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Aaron completed an internship in Atlanta at Nava under acclaimed Chef Kevin Rathbun. Then, he moved to Aspen, CO to work as a Sous Chef by Pinion’s and Cache Cache. During his time at these high-end restaurants, Aaron became more intrigued with the idea of combining traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare. Returning to the South, he became the Executive Chef at Blossom Café in downtown Charleston for several years before taking his vast experience and creativity and opened Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ.


Taylor Garrigan, Executive Chef After spending some time at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Taylor Garrigan changed courses and attended and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a hotel and restaurant management degree. Taylor at The Beach Club at Kiawah Island and Magnolias before moving on to FIG to work under renowned chef, Mike Lata, in downtown Charleston. Today, at Home Team BBQ as executive chef, Taylor combines traditional processes and techniques of classical cuisine with the simplicity of comfort food, BBQ, and Southern fare.


Madison Ruckel, Chef, West Ashley A Florida native, Madison Ruckel attended Florida State University for a little while before deciding to move to Charleston and attend Johnson & Wales University in 1999. After Johnson & Wales, he moved back to Destin to work with his family in real estate. Within a year he yearned to be back in Charleston. He worked at a few restaurants before he was hired to work at Home Team BBQ West Ashley. Madison started before the restaurant opened their first location in 2006 and has been there ever since.

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Jonathan Jersualmy, Resort Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Programming, Sea Island Company

Education / Training: Bachelor of Arts in food service, wine technology and hospitality management from the Institute Technique des Métiers de L’Alimentation in Tournai, Belgium. Early in his career, he completed several prominent internships at Michelin-rated restaurants in France, studying under Master Chefs of France, Paul Bocuse and Gerard Boyer.

Awards / Honors:French Master Chef

Career Highlights: Prior to joining Sea Island, Jerusalmy served as the Executive Chef at St. Regis Atlanta. His eclectic background includes stints as Executive Sous Chef of St. Regis Monarch Beach in California, Executive Banquet Chef and Executive Sous Chef at Loews Miami Beach Hotel in Florida, and Chef de Partie at Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys.

Childhood Favorite Food: His mother’s blinis with smoked salmon as it reminds him of spending the Christmas holidays with family.

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David Carrier, Executive Chef for The Cloister and Beach Club, Sea Island Company

Education / Training: Cazenovia College & The French Culinary Institute Inspiration for becoming a chef: Having spent the majority of his childhood in his parent’s Northern Italian restaurant in Queens, NY, Carrier knew at a young age he was meant for hospitality.

Career Highlights: Carrier has studied under world-renowned Chef Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. It was there that he sharpened his skills, developed his cooking philosophies, and earned the opportunity to work alongside Grant Achatz, then Sous Chef of The French Laundry. In 2004, Carrier opened his own restaurant, Avenue Sea in Apalachicola, FL. After its success, Carrier returned to Chicago to open Kith & Kin restaurant in Lincoln Park, where his food garnered many accolades including a Michelin’s Bib Gourmand nod. Carrier joined Sea Island’s culinary team in 2011.

Foodie Fun Fact: Carrier’s favorite meal growing up was corned beef and cabbage. As far as his least favorite, he says “does it look like there is something I won’t eat?!”

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John Helfrich, Executive Chef for The Lodge and Retreat, Sea Island Company

Education / Training: Johnson and Wales University

Career Highlights: Helfrich found his way to Sea Island in 1999 and was part of the opening team for The Lodge. He has also contributed his talents to the Walker Cup, the openings of three Forbes Five-Star hotels, numerous PGA TOUR events, and was heavily involved in the success of the G-8 Summit at Sea Island in 2004. He has also served as Executive Banquet Chef before moving into his current role in 2009.

Foodie Fun Fact: If not a chef, Helfrich could see himself being a schoolteacher.

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Jason Russell, Executive Banquet Chef, Sea Island Company

Education / Training: Art Institute of Atlanta, Culinary Arts

Inspiration for becoming a chef: Born and raised in South Georgia, Russell cut his culinary teeth on home-grown, southern cooking. While spending his childhood helping his mother and grandmother cook for the family, he found his passion for entertaining through food.

Career Highlights: Prior to joining the Sea Island family in 2007, Russell served as Executive Sous Chef for a large, upscale country club in Georgia. Since starting at Sea Island’s Beach Club, Russell has climbed the epicurean ladder and shaped his creativity and signature cooking style into what he calls “sophisticatedly southern”. In 2009, Russell became Chef de Cuisine for the River Bar at The Cloister, followed by Chef Tournant in 2011; and has been in his current role since 2012.

Favorite Kitchen Tool: “A spoon, because it’s simple, timeless, and necessary, just like a sports coat”.

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Jordan Poteat, Executive Chef of External Services, Sea Island Company

Career Highlights: Poteat began his career in the food industry in the front-of-the-house, but he felt a connection with the kitchen. He says, “I loved the intangible feelings associated with a meal – how food is so commonly associated with memories and periods of people’s lives that are extremely important to them. I wanted to be a part of that”. After studying for three years in the Culinary Apprenticeship program at Sea Island he joined the culinary team in the Forbes Five-Star Georgian Room. After almost two years there, Poteat spearheaded Sea Island’s farm-to-table movement and became chef de cuisine for Broadfield Plantation. In this role he supplied artisanal products and sustainable produce for all Sea Island chefs. Poteat’s next move included being part of the opening teams for The Inn at Sea Island and The Market at Sea Island. Poteat’s current role includes overseeing culinary operations at The Market, The Inn at Sea Island, and Broadfield Plantation.

Foodie Fun Fact: Poteat’s hobbies outside of the kitchen are anything outside – mostly hunting, fishing, and surfing.

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